If the Shoe Fits … How Foot Locker Tied the Loose Knots in Recruiting

Aug 20, 2018 6:09:28 PM / by Mary Kaylor


Josh Wright is chief economist at iCIMS, where he leads a team of data scientists in analyzing emerging trends in the U.S. labor market. Wright has nearly 15 years of experience, including serving as a U.S. economist at Bloomberg, where he was a frequent guest on Bloomberg Radio and Bloomberg TV. Prior to Bloomberg, Wright was a staff researcher at the Federal Reserve, where he helped design and analyze the Fed’s quantitative easing programs, among other responses to the global financial crisis of 2007-09. Wright holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University. He has published original research everywhere from academic journals to national newspapers and popular blogs, and his insights on the state of the labor market and the broader U.S. economy frequently appear in major media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, The Associated Press, and Bloomberg.


Foot Locker, Inc. processes 4 million global applicants each year spanning 23 countries and had a need to streamline talent acquisition efforts. At its retail stores, managers are tasked with hiring talent for their location. To keep pace with their high volume hiring and to reduce turnover, the company shifted from its legacy ATS provider that was limited to English-speaking countries, and embraced a best-of-breed platform to support a consistent, global application and recruitment workflow. Robert Perkins, Vice President of Global Talent Management at Foot Locker, will showcase Foot Locker’s evaluation process, where candidates are fed through the platform to automatically calculate a “fit score” — determining whether they’re qualified to advance in the hiring process. You’ll learn how Foot Locker streamlined its hiring experience, simplified recruiting processes and restored focus to effectively onboard quality candidates, ensuring they start their career on the right foot.

As an HR Technology Conference Insiders blogger, I conducted a Q & A with Josh about his session If the Shoe Fits … How Foot Locker Tied the Loose Knots in Recruiting:

Josh, your session with  Robert Perkins, Vice President of Global Talent Management at Foot Locker, will explore why they selected iCIMS as their HR technology vendor. What advice can you share with HR professionals who are new to the HR buyer role for how to select an HR technology vendor? What should they want to know about the vendor and what are some of the questions they should ask?  

In a dynamic field like HR technology, there are already a lot of options out there, and more come online every day. Having a partner that can help you keep up is invaluable. So when selecting a new vendor, first take a look at their stability and experience. Understanding where the recruiting industry has been is the foundation for seeing where it is headed.

It is also important to understand how the vendor treats talent acquisition. Is it an add-on or their focus? What is their investment in recruiting? Do they have a dedicated roadmap for it?

Additionally, look for a vendor who understands not only how their technology is essential for specific HR functions like recruiting, but also how it affects the rest of your business as well. Ultimately, there are multiple stakeholders involved – leadership, HR, IT, finance, etc. – and you will have to balance their differing needs. The right vendor-partner will help you address each of these various perspectives, creating a successful collective experience.

Foot Locker selected iCIMS technology because it allowed their talent acquisition process to have consistency in application and workflow for all their locations around the globe. What other factors should HR be thinking about as they select new HR technology?

Beyond the core functionality of a given HR technology, stay attuned to scalability. Ensure that the software not only has the features and functions your business needs today, but that it can easily support change and scale for future growth. For example, how does it work with Google for Jobs? Does it support text recruitment? Is AI on the roadmap?

A key point for scalability is having a strategy for the proliferation of HR point solutions. For this, focus on ease of integrations. Determine how easy it is to integrate different solutions into a single interface, for both operational functionality and access to data analytics.

Last but certainly not least, consider data management and security. Between high-profile data breaches and new data regulations in Europe that are setting standards across the industry, candidate data privacy and compliance should be a top priority for your HR technology providers.

Analytics and reporting still represent a top challenge for HR professionals. How has iCIMS helped Foot Locker to streamline its HR reporting?

iCIMS provides Foot Locker’s HR and recruiting professionals with a holistic view of talent acquisition around the world. By bringing everything together into one view, iCIMS helps make Foot Locker’s workflows more efficient and centralizes reports to deliver actionable insights.

Our platform-as-a-service (PaaS) framework, UNIFi, serves as the unified hub for all Foot Locker’s hiring tools and seamlessly transfers data to and from its HR technology partners like Infor, PhenomPeople and more. No matter where in the world a Foot Locker team member is located, they have access to the same dashboards and can manage all their data from right within the iCIMS suite.  UNIFi also provides a strong integration with Foot Locker’s HRIS, keeping important information and data in sync to help improve overall HR reporting.

It’s crucial for employers to keep a pulse on the behaviors of candidates during the hiring process. Where do you see the most change occurring in candidate behavior over the past five years and how should employers be responding with technology?

Candidate behavior has been increasingly shaped by their experiences with consumer technology. Many have grown accustomed to online experiences that are efficient and personalized, and where communication is easy 24/7. Candidates expect the same experience from their online job search.

Accordingly, employers should ensure that their career sites and job applications are mobile-optimized. Data from the iCIMS platform indicates that it takes 42 days on average to fill an open role in the U.S., which is a long time to wait in a world of instant responses and overnight deliveries. Reducing that wait time and keeping candidates engaged throughout the process is as crucial as getting them to the career site in the first place.

Employers should consider investing in technologies like text recruiting, chatbots, and AI to proactively engage with candidates throughout the hiring process – practices that are increasingly prevalent in e-commerce and other online environments. Text recruiting enables job seekers to apply for job openings over text message and live chat, while chatbots can automate processes and be used for everything from screening to interviewing. These tools not only improve the quality of communication with candidates, but also help make the hiring process more efficient for HR professionals.

What is the fastest-growing new area of spending in HR technology now and how do you see this trend affecting the future of HR?

In today’s tight job market, HR needs to meet people where they are, and that’s a lifestyle built around seamless, engaging digital experiences. Aligning with those trends will be a common theme across HR, but some of the most striking examples will occur in talent acquisition. To improve engagement with both passive and active candidates and get them to apply, businesses are investing in several key areas: recruitment advertising technology, career sites, and novel modes of communication.

The novel modes of communication are texting and chatbots. These have become everyday staples in consumer online experiences and they are the future of candidate communication as well.

Recruitment advertising and career sites go hand in hand, supported by Google’s ongoing transformation of the recruitment space as a whole. Search engine optimization is going from important to indispensable. Google is already where the majority of job seekers start their job search and it could quickly become the dominant source. It helps job seekers find jobs more easily, cutting out job boards and other middlemen, leading the candidates directly to employers’ job sites. While new investments will have to be made in optimizing for Google, spend will likely decline for recruitment advertising through the middlemen.

This all means investment in areas like programmatic recruitment advertising and stronger, more dynamic, career sites will be coming down the pike as well. Tapping into AI and automation, the new tools will offer predictive, customizable solutions that will improve the hiring process and the employer’s bottom line.

Want to learn more?  Josh Wright will present at the 2018 HR Technology Conference: If the Shoe Fits … How Foot Locker Tied the Loose Knots in Recruiting  |   Wednesday, September 12, 2018: 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM


Topics: technology, HR, hr tech, icims, HR Tech Conference

Mary Kaylor

Written by Mary Kaylor

Mary Kaylor is the Public Affairs Lead for the Society for Human Resource Management. She is the Managing Editor of the SHRM Blog and the creator and producer of #Nextchat, a leading global Twitter chat on the HR trends and all things work. Her career in communications spans from technology and workforce management in the telecommunications industry to external affairs and public relations. An HR Technology conference blogger since 2015, you can find her on Twitter at @SHRMKaylor.

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